Zambia: Increasing Economic and Social Empowerment for Girls and Women

Prepared For

U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Chief Evaluation Office

Mathematica evaluated the EMPOWER project: Increasing Economic and Social Empowerment for Adolescent Girls and Vulnerable Women, implemented by Winrock International and funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The project sought to reduce the prevalence of child labor, improve the ability of adolescent girls and women to gain acceptable employment, and increase public awareness of child labor and gender equality in Eastern Province, Zambia.

According to the Zambian government, almost 600,000 children were engaged in child labor across the country in 2014, of which more than half were younger than 15 years old. This is despite Zambia’s 2013 Prohibition of Employment of Young Persons and Children Act that prohibits children younger than 15 from working and children ages 15 to 17 from working in hazardous conditions.

The problems associated with child labor in Zambia are worse for girls. In addition to facing risks from working in agriculture—such as exposure to fertilizer chemicals, injuries from using heavy machinery, and overheating from working in the hot sun—adolescent girls are often expected to take on domestic chores. The combination of agricultural work and domestic labor could contribute to girls’ relatively low levels of enrollment in and completion of upper grade levels in school, which restricts their ability to gain the skills required for safe and higher-earning employment in the long run.

As part of the EMPOWER project, Winrock conducted a Rural Entrepreneurial and Leadership (REAL) course that covered life skills, technical skills, vocational skills, and mentoring support. The REAL course separately served girls ages 15 to 17 engaged or at risk of engaging in child labor as well as and men and vulnerable women from households with girls enrolled in REAL.

Mathematica conducted an evaluability assessment of the EMPOWER project to review project implementation, assess project logic, and inform and develop an evaluation design. Mathematica designed the EMPOWER project evaluation and collected data at baseline and 12 to 18 months after the REAL course finished to assess participants’ vocational and technical skills, engagement in business-oriented networks, and employment outcomes for girls and women. Mathematica also conducted qualitative interviews with project beneficiaries, course trainers, and implementation staff to complement its quantitative findings.

Related Staff

Evan Borkum

Evan Borkum

Principal Researcher

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